Attorney General's office could investigate holding center death

Posted at 2:46 PM, Jul 23, 2018

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is in talks with the New York State Attorney's Office to determine whether the AG's office will investigate the death of a Buffalo woman who died after spending time in the Erie County Holding Center.

This is in response to a scathing report by the New York State's Commission of Correction's Medical Review Board on the death of India Cummings. The report recommends Cumming's death be ruled a homicide.

In a statement, Flynn cited a 2015 Executive Order from Governor Andrew Cuomo which requires the Attorney General’s Office to serve as special prosecutor “to investigate, and if warranted, prosecute certain matters involving the death of an unarmed civilian, whether in-custody or not, caused by a law enforcement officer.”

Flynn said he's been in talks with the AG's office about pursuing an investigation.

Cummings died after being held at Erie County Holding Center in 2016. It was 16 days after arrest for stealing a car. 

The state report claims the holding center was grossly negligent. It goes on to say Cummings was deprived of medical care and water. The report also states “her death was attributed to traumatic injury she received during her arrest and a prolonged period continual of medical neglect.” 

The Commission also blamed the holding center for not keeping proper documentation of Cummings’ time at the facility. The deputy log book reveals Cummings was pounding on her door yelling for help and said she couldn’t breathe. However, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is challenging the state’s report and its findings. 

“The report it it it it doesn’t necessarily establish the true. They’ve expressed an opinion. The ultimate trier of that or finder of that fact will be a court. This is pending litigation. So it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Howard said. 

In addition to Flynn's office, the Erie County Legislature is also considering action. Majority Leader April Baskin is holding a committee meeting in the Erie County Legislature Chambers on Wednesday, July 25 at 10 a.m. to discuss the report. 

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